Do Acceptance and Mindfulness Moderate the Relationship Between Maladaptive Beliefs and Posttraumatic Distress?

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Abstract

Objective: Maladaptive pre- and posttraumatic beliefs are reliable predictors of distress in the wake of trauma. Acceptance and mindfulness skills may be associated with less distress in the presence of these beliefs, but few studies have explored these relationships. This study examined whether individual differences in acceptance and mindfulness moderate the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and distress in postdeployment soldiers. Method: We explored the relationships between posttraumatic maladaptive beliefs, acceptance, mindfulness, and posttraumatic distress (posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] and general psychological symptoms) in a sample of recently postdeployed active duty U.S. Army Soldiers (N = 1,524). Results: Maladaptive thoughts, acceptance, and mindfulness predicted posttraumatic distress, adjusted for combat exposure. In addition, mindfulness partially moderated the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and PTSD symptoms, and acceptance partially moderated the relationship between maladaptive thoughts and general psychological symptoms. Moderation effects were small. Conclusions: These findings suggest that individual differences in acceptance and mindfulness may weakly mitigate the relationship between maladaptive thinking and posttraumatic distress, but additional skills may be necessary to fully address maladaptive beliefs in Soldier postdeployment.

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